Monday, December 19, 2011

Traditional Marriage: The nature of the male/female distinction

One of the underpinning philosophical assumptions underneath the gay "marriage" framework is the interchangeability of the sexes.  That is, an advocate of gay "marriage" argues that the relationship between two partners of the same sex is the same as the relationship between two partners of the opposite sex.

This stems in a lot of ways I think from the radical feminist notions of interchangeability of the sexes.  It is proposed that men and women are no different in qualities that matter.  A woman is just as good and capable as a man at everything.  The biological differences are a triviality of nature and nothing more.

The implication then is that the if the sexes are interchangeable, then the pairing of a man with a woman has no distinction from paring a man with a man (or a woman with a woman for completeness sake).  Thus if there is no "real" distinction between a man and a woman, a man or a woman can fill any role, including that of a spouse, despite the sex of the other partner.

Contra this erroneous notion is the view of natural law and of traditional morality.  What natural law states is that man and woman are different "ontologically."  The distinction is not just at a surface level but goes to the very core of one's being.  Men and women are different beings in that regard.

Now both men and women share the nature of being human.  This means that both have equal dignity as befitting the human.  But male and female are also complimentary.  We are different.  We have different views, traits, and skills that compliment one another.  This is due to the complimentary differences between the sexes, both bring strengths and weaknesses to the table.  And in that complimentary nature we find the full meaning of the human being.

This complimentary aspect is no more pronounced in the area of reproduction.  Both sexes have half of the functions necessary for reproduction.  Apart they are incomplete.  But together they form a whole system that ultimately results in a new human being.

Now an objection might be raised that the point of reproduction is challenged by modern technology.  While a full refutation is beyond the scope of this post let us say that from a purely natural point this complimentary nature of the sexes is unique.  Two men do not form a whole reproductive unit.  Neither do two women.  Even when modern technology is thrown into the mix this brute biological fact is still in play.

While in and of itself important this point of the male/female distinction is not sufficient to demonstrate the limited nature of marriage.  But it does show what marriage advocates assume when they say there is a unique aspect of male/female complimentary that same sex relationships cannot fulfill.  This is important when we come to understand the nature of marriage.

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